Language resources to negotiate official and alternative memories of human rights violations in Chile: A study on classroom interactions

Teresa Oteíza


This article explores social and historical memories of recent Chilean history in pedagogical recontextualisations of disciplinary knowledge in Grade 11 history classes. The discourse of history analysed relates to human rights violations committed during Pinochet’s dictatorship (1973-1990) and the ways this traumatic past is negotiated in classroom interactions. The aim of this work is to contribute to understanding how the process of human rights violations is transmitted to new generations. The focus here is specifically on how historical processes and events are evaluated in these discourses, drawing on Martin and White’s (2005) appraisal framework. As well as proposals by Oteíza and Pinuer (2012), and Oteíza (2017), for the semantic domain of APPRECIATION, an elaboration developed to take into account the particularity and complexity of the processual cline (events, processes and situations) in historical discourses. In addition, the article analyses semantic gravity and semantic density from Legitimation Code Theory (Maton, 2014, 2016), to explore the levels of abstraction that, not only build cumulative knowledge, but also integrate personal and social memories of the recent past and ‘historize memories’ of a sensitive period of Chilean history. This discourse analysis of classroom interactions is complemented with what teachers and students have reported regarding their experiences and memories of the recent past in interviews. The analysis of how evaluative prosodies of official and alternative memories regarding the recent Chilean past, are built in the discourse is informed by a socio-semiotic perspective of systemic functional linguistics (Achugar, 2016; Achugar, et al., 2014; Martin & White, 2005; Martin et al., 2010; Oteíza, 2014; 2018).

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Historical Encounters is a double blind peer-reviewed, open access, interdisciplinary journal dedicated to the empirical and theoretical study of historical consciousness, historical cultures, and history education.

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